Entering the meet, the main attraction of the Milestat Track Gala was a showdown between Footlocker National Champion Solomon Haile and 4:10 miler Taylor Gilland from Chapel Hill, North Carolina on the anchor leg of the all-star distance medley relay. Gilland scratched from the competition due to illness.
Solomon knew about the 4:10 miler, but did not know his name. So when Gilland was not announced in the relay introductions, Solomon did not know anything was different. As far as he knew, his job was to fight off a 4:10 miler.
It turned out that Solomon was the only member of the Mocorunning All-Stars, a team of four boys representing Montgomery County, Maryland, not to be challenged. The AA All-Stars, a team of four Virginians assembled late in the day, put pressure on the Mocorunning team every step of the way over the first three legs.
From the start, it was Moco's Andrew Palmer leading the race, with only David Gunnerson of the AA team able to keep up after the first lap. The two came through the first lap in 1:02, and then came through 800 meters in about 2:06. With 200 meters to go on the 1200 meter leg, Gunnerson pulled up next to Andrew and started pushing the pace. Andrew responded and the two accelerated to a sprint down the final 100 meters.
Andrew later said that he really did not like the idea of Gunnerson sitting behind him for 1100 meters and kicking past him to get the lead. He was able to stay in front and hand off to Antonio Palmer with a slim lead. Andrew had closed his third lap in 1:02, the same time as his first lap, for an overall split of about 3:08.
Antonio Palmer (no relation to Andrew Palmer) got out well and put a stride between himself and the 400 runner from the AA team. The race remained tight for 300 meters before Antonio created almost 10 meters of separation over the final 100 meters. He split about 49 seconds and gave Wayne Bartholomew a much needed lead.
Chasing Wayne over 800 meters would be Ryan Hagen who had won the open 800 earlier in the meet in a time of 1:55.25. By 300 meters, Hagen had closed the 10 meter gap to about 2 meters. Bartholomew came through the first 400 meters in 56 second, while Hagen must have run about 55 seconds. Hagen maintained a 3 to 5 meter gap over the second lap, but just as Antonio had done on the previous lap, Wayne created over 10 meters of separation over the final 100 meters. His strong finish gave him a 1:55 split, about the same time as his personal record in the open 800.
At the exchange between Wayne and Solomon, the Mocorunning team had a 15 meter gap and by far the strongest anchor leg, but Solomon still thought there would be a 4:10 miler chasing him down. He ran his first 400 meters in about 59 seconds! He came back with a 64 second lap to split 2:03 for 800 meters. At that point, the announcer picked up on how fast he was running and let everyone know it, but Solomon would not be able to hold onto that pace, especially with nobody around to push him. He slowed to 66 seconds on the third lap, then about 65 seconds for a 1600 meter split of about 4:14, a personal record.
Solomon later said that he would have rather done the opposite of what he did. He would have liked to go out slower and finish faster, but with a personal record and the overall team win, there was nothing to be disappointed about.
The Mocorunning All-Stars set the new meet record with a time of 10:07.88. The meet record was previously held by the Central Region All-Stars of VA who ran 10:09.81 in 2008.
The all-star relay was not the only event contested by Montgomery County athletes at this year's Milestat.com Track Gala.
Marcus Brown of Quince Orchard High School broke the meet record in the shot put with a throw of 56-08. He won the discus with a throw of 157-10. For his double victory in the field events, he was honored with the title of the "Elitest of the Elite" for boys field events.
A couple of sprinters from Montgomery County walked away with medals around their necks.
Wootton's freshman Casey Dowling competed in the long jump early in the day finishing sixth with a mark of 16-05.25. She was fifth in the 100 with a time of 12.58 and third in the 400 with a time of 60.58.
Springbrook's Rodney Kizito ran the 100 in 11.51, the 200 in 23.42, and the 400 in 50.42. His 400 time earned him a sixth place medal.
Georgetown Prep's freshman distance runner Andrew Gyenis doubled in the 1500 and the 2000 steeplechase. He first ran 4:17.17 in the 1500, which would equate to about a 4:34 1600, a big personal record. In the steeplechase, he started out slow but finished strong, taking 8th place in 6:41.46, just three-tenths of a second out of a sixth place medaling spot.
Damascus's Cecil Jonas also competed in the steeplechase, but unlike Gyenis he went out very hard. He was the first competitor to reach the waterpit and ran in the front for about two laps. The fast early pace slowed him down in the second half of the race. He finished in tenth place in 6:55.24.